Mobile Printers

Mobile printers are characterised by the fact that they are more compact than standard commercial printers and can therefore also be used outside the home or office. Mobile printers can be simple label printers, but manufacturers also offer mobile devices for DIN A4.

The print job usually comes via Bluetooth via a smartphone, but can also be done via the classic PC. What is ultimately used, however, always depends on the manufacturer and the printing technology used. Especially in the field of mobile printers there are many different processes.


The mobile printer can have many facets. However, a mobile printer is usually much smaller than a normal A4 printer. The mobile printer is characterized by its small size and low weight. The latter ensures that you can carry the printer with you at any time without the printer being perceived as unpleasantly heavy.

Mobile printers can be operated with either a power outlet or an integrated rechargeable battery. The mobility of the battery is enormously high, but the devices also have the big disadvantage that the capacity is often only sufficient for a few prints at a time.

The final appearance of a mobile printer depends on the printing technology. Especially for photographs, mobile printers are in great demand, which is why photo printers are often equipped as thermal printers with a maximum format of 10x15 cm. Brother or Canon also offer printers as mobile devices that can print the usual DIN A4 format on the move.

Functions of a mobile printer

As already mentioned, mobile printers work with different techniques to bring the image onto the paper. In recent years, manufacturers have repeatedly trumped each other to make the mobile printer as compact as possible.

Problem: Laser printers are not possible with a mobile printer because of the high temperatures. Inkjet printers are theoretically possible, but have the big disadvantage that the ink cartridges take up a lot of space in the printer.

Thermodirect process

The space-saving method for mobile printing is the direct thermal process. Direct thermal printers are also known as zero ink printers, which means that no ink is used. Instead, direct thermal printers work with a zinc paper that colors differently when exposed to heat. The direct thermal printer does not need ink cartridges and only produces the image by the thermosensitive special paper reacting to heat. In order for the printer to actually print, the thermal paper has to be bought and inserted - the prices are higher than with normal paper.

Thermosublimation process

In addition to the thermodirect process, there is also the thermosublimation process. The printer is often referred to as a wax printer, because ink is not introduced into the printer in a liquid state, but as a viscous wax. The colours cyan, magenta and money are applied to a narrow colour roller, which evaporates when heat is applied. The dye gets into the paper, which in turn ensures very detailed images. Wax printing is preferable, especially for photographs.

Inkjet printer

Ink printing is the last variant of the mobile printer. In this case, the mobile printer works with classic ink cartridges, which primarily reduces the purchase costs. The printer prints the image line by line by bringing the ink through a nozzle onto the image. The advantage of this process is that alternative cartridges can also be used. This greatly reduces printing costs. Unfortunately, with ink cartridges there is always the danger that mobile ink printers will leak if you put the printer on its side or place it in its bag during transport.

Print capacities of mobile printers

Mobile printers are much slower than normal laser printers or inkjet printers. While a high-quality inkjet printer for the office can print almost 30 pages per minute, a mobile printer can print only 2 to 3 pages per minute. Especially the direct thermal printers need a little longer before they can start printing. If you buy a mobile inkjet printer, you have a very fast mobile printer. Direct thermal and sublimation thermal printers can't keep up with this, but they do convince with other features.


When it comes to accessories for mobile printers, the special paper is the most important thing. While some manufacturers sell portable DIN A4 printers, most portable photo printers are only equipped with postcard sized paper. The majority of mobile printers work with a paper format of 10x15 cm.

However, since customers cannot cut normal paper to this size at all times, paper in the right size must be purchased. The paper supply is usually offered in so-called cassettes. A cassette can hold between 20 and 80 sheets. With a paper supply of 80 sheets, however, customers have a very large and possibly unwieldy mobile printer. Portable printers usually work with a cassette size of 20 sheets.

  • Plain paper (60-90 g/m³)
  • Professional photo paper (210 g/m³)
  • Photo glossy paper (270 g/m³)
  • Matt photo paper (170 g/m³)
  • High-resolution paper (100 g/m³)
  • Zinc paper in various sizes and thicknesses (for direct thermal printers)

These types of paper are usually used in a mobile photo printer. It must be differentiated whether the paper works as normal paper or as zinc paper. Zinc papers are used in direct thermal printers, while other printers use standard paper.

Special features of mobile printers

Mobile printers have a good resolution despite the small passport size. Most portable devices work with a resolution of 300x300 dpi. For a photo in a DIN A4 format this resolution would be too small, but for a photo in postcard size the resolution is very high. In general, mobile printers are ideal for printing snapshots on the go. In DIN A4 format the mobile printer only makes sense if documents have to be printed - photos are not recommended.


  • Small size
  • Low weight
  • Wireless communication between devices
  • Battery or external power supply
  • High print quality for postcard sizes


  • high costs for zinc paper for thermal direct printers
  • low printing capacity
  • DIN A4 models not suitable for photos

Customer segment

Mobile printers are small, lightweight printers that are ideal for taking with you on vacation to quickly print snapshots. An additional PC to set up the print is usually not necessary, so mobile printers are extremely handy when transferring photos from a mobile phone or digital camera. Mobile printers are therefore very popular for private use.

However, if many photos or documents want to be printed in one piece, a portable printer is not recommended. The special paper is usually more expensive than commercial normal paper in DIN A4 - besides the printing times are enormously long with a mobile printer. Printing a photo can take up to a minute - a normal printer usually only takes a few seconds to print.